Developer: Magellan
Price: $99.99 (currently on sale for $59.99)
Version Reviewed: 1.2

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Experience Rating: ★★★★☆
Detail and Accuracy Rating: ★★★½☆
Functionality Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Roadmate5While the basis for the GPS functions in RoadMate is as good as we’ve seen in any other GPS app for the iPhone, it’s once again the little things that are lacking. RoadMate is, as we’ve seen with other iPhone GPS applications, just a port of a non-iPhone application shoved onto the iPhone platform. Just like many of the others they have taken very little consideration to making the application integrate with the iPhone standard interface elements at all. In addition, they have done nothing to take advantage of the iPhone’s always connected data stream. There’s no live traffic, no network POI search, nothing. Well not yet anyway.

Navigation

The on screen display is rather nice. Including well displayed road signs when you approach an intechange on the highway. Not something new, but well done at least. There’s also the 3D+ display mode that shows 3D representations of major landmark buildings along your route. Great for double-checking your location. Unfortunately though, due to the size of the graphics this can obstruct your view of nearby roads. You might find yourself turning this off more than you have it on.

Roadmate6Routing

RoadMate routing is a fairly simple to use but robust system. There are some fairly detailed options available for finding your route and looking at the map to compare the different travel options. One of the options you have to set as your routing point is a contact from your address book. I was not able to get this to work in multiple attempts though as the app could not parse the standard US addresses in my address book.

While there’s no menu to specify this, you can add more than one stop in your route. Once you have created a route with a single destination, just go through the process to find another destination. When you find the location, the app will ask you if you want to cancel your current route or add to it. A fairly good method to handle the rather complex process of editing multiple point routes.

One great feature that RoadMate has right out of the bat is turn by turn text-to-speech navigation. A feature that was missing in initial versions of GPS apps on the iPhone.

POI

There’s also the really good feature for quick access to common destinations, the OneTouch navigation section. A click in the lower right from the main navigation page gets you to the OneTouch page. There you can quickly navigate to one of 24 assignable locations. These can either be specific location or address or a quick search like ‘Nearest Pizza Hut’ or ‘Nearest Emergency Room’. A really nice quick navigation feature.

But how about the POI database. I’m afraid it’s really out of date. Yet another reason for all GPS applications to integrate online search and allow users to search Google, Yahoo!, Yelp, etc. for nearby POIs.

Future support — Magellan have already put out two updates to this app in the time since it’s initial release. I take this as a good sign and hope that we’ll see more updates from them. Hopefully they will address some of the shortcomings of this app as it has the potential to be the best GPS app available.

Overall this is a potentially great iPhone on-board GPS app, but it’s just not there yet. A couple more revisions and hopefully we’ll have this app reach its full potential.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Navigation, Reviews